Last week as I was reading Jesus Calling, I was thinking to myself "It would be nice if this book had a bookmark". Since it is a daily reading a bookmark is a must have! Plus, I just really like bookmarks. They make me feel like I'm organized - although I'm so far from having anything else in my life organized these days.
I start fumbling through the book and much to my surprise I find an attached bookmark! It had been folded up towards the back of the book so it took some searching to find it. I pull it open to the marked page the folded bookmark was on and I suddenly froze when I saw this...
August. Of all the places this bookmark could have been, it was marked on August. Why was it marked here? It wasn't the halfway point of the book. I knew my friend didn't mark it there on purpose because I hadn't told anyone yet about naming the baby.
What I love about this book is that each day is written as if Jesus was speaking directly to us. He gives me words of encouragement, comfort and hope all from the scriptures. On this day, He was definitely speaking to me. It was no coincidence that the bookmark was marked on this page. Jesus was calling to me, telling me that August was safe in His arms and reminding me to believe in Him. To trust in Him. And for the first time in a what seems like forever, I smiled.
I knew that August wanted me to be okay. Jesus does speak to us, even when we are hurting - we just have to listen. Step away from the pain and listen.
Thank you Lord for speaking to me. Help me to be aware of the ways you are calling me.
Wednesday, December 14 - I take a pregnancy test and am shocked that it's positive! We were trying for this baby, but it happened faster than I thought possible :) I'm realizing that this means I will have two kids under the age of 2, but Hunter and I are thrilled!
Sunday, December 25 - We tell our parents the good news over Christmas break by having Savannah Kate wear a Big Sis shirt. It was so fun seeing the reaction on their faces! Everyone was very excited.
Friday, January 6 - I start having some bleeding. It seems strange because I didn't experience this with Savannah Kate, but I've heard of this being a common symptom in early pregnancy. I didn't think about it too much because I was excited to be going to the Cotton Bowl - it was my first bowl game and my first trip to the Cowboy's stadium.
Monday, January 9 - I call the doctor and tell them what is going on and they want me to come in to have some blood work done. They are checking the pregnancy hormone levels in my blood and want to see if the number rises in a 48 hour time period.
Tuesday, January 10 - The nurse calls and lets me know that my beta level is 6,900 which seems like a really good number. When you are not pregnant this number is 0. So far, everything seems to be fine and I'm definitely pregnant. Up to this point I had only taken a home pregnancy test.
Wednesday, January 11 - I go back to the hospital and have the blood test done again. This time they ordered it stat so that we could get the results today. Wednesday is the one day a week that Savannah Kate goes to Mother's Day Out, so that's always when I run errands. I was at a hair appointment around 11:00 when I got the phone call that I will never forget. The nurse tells me that my beta levels have dropped to 6,400. These numbers are supposed to be doubling every 48 hours in the first trimester - not dropping. Next, I am told that the numbers only drop when you are losing the baby. "You will most likely be having a miscarriage" were the next words I heard. I asked if there was any way possible that this wasn't the case, but she politely said "no". They also needed me to come back in the next day for a sonogram to confirm. I somehow make it through the rest of my hair appointment without losing it. I think she could have chopped all my hair off and I wouldn't have even noticed. I just needed to get out of there and call Hunter. Hunter was a couple hours away and wasn't planning on being home until late. I called him and told him what happened and luckily he was able to get home that afternoon. As you can imagine, it was an emotional night for us. I didn't sleep at all. It was the most horrible thought knowing that I was going to have a sonogram the next morning to confirm that our baby was dying or had already died.
Thursday, January 12 - We drop Savannah Kate off at a friend's house and head to the hospital for a sonogram. I had held my emotions together pretty well until the tech started the sonogram. She had the screen turned away from us so that we wouldn't be able to see. I started crying a few minutes into it and suddenly the tech said "There's a heartbeat!" and quickly turns the screen around. Hunter and I both jump up and excitedly look at the screen and see our baby for the first time. Although it doesn't look much like a baby yet, you could clearly see that there was a heartbeat and we even got to hear it. It was 107 bpm which the tech told us was a little low. We were in such shock that we didn't even ask what the heartbeat should have been. I was only 8 weeks, so I'm thinking it wouldn't be very high yet right? We leave with pictures of our baby and something else that we didn't have before - HOPE! We see the nurse again after the sonogram and she really tried to squash out our hope. She said that it could just be part of the process and that we could still lose the baby. But then, she says a couple of other scenarios that could be happening:
1 - we are losing the baby and it hasn't happened yet.
2 - the lab could have made an error on the blood work on Wednesday because the blood test wasn't matching up with the sonogram - seems like a long shot, but apparently it has happened before.
3 - I could have been pregnant with twins and lost one of them. What? I had never heard of this, but there is a thing called vanishing twin syndrome where you lose one of the babies which could possibly explain the bleeding and the drop in beta levels, but a normal sonogram. Basically, they didn't know what was going on yet. That night, we start letting some of our friends know and ask for prayers for a good test result the next day. We now have lots of people praying and we have hope! A complete change from the day before. I wanted answers of course, but now I was at peace with maybe not ever having those answers.
Friday, January 13 - I go back to the hospital for the fourth time this week. Since it has been another 48 hours, they are going to check the beta levels once again. I'm nervous, but still hopeful that this baby is going to make it and prove to the nurses that we should all have hope! Once again, the test is ordered stat so I only had to wait a few hours for the results. The phone rings, and this time it is good news. The beta levels have now gone up to 7,900! Not doubling like they are supposed to be, but not dropping so we assume this is good. The doctor decides that we will hold off on doing anymore blood tests and will do another sonogram next Thursday. Hunter and I are thrilled and go to our favorite local restaurant for dinner that night to celebrate with Savannah Kate. No, we still don't have answers, but we are happy with the results. Later that night I started having some pretty bad cramps that lasted for about an hour. Now I was scared. "Am I going to lose this baby?" was all I could think about. This week had been such a roller coaster of emotions. I had never experienced anything like this before.
Saturday, January 14 - We stay in and have a great family Saturday together. I hadn't had any more cramps so I'm remaining hopeful. Hunter and I worked on a few home projects and painted a shelf I got for the playroom. I think we enjoyed having a project to work on so we could try and get our mind off of what was going on.
Sunday, January 15 - We go to church and have another great family day at home. I had some on and off cramps, but nothing too bad. Hunter is supposed to be going on a trip the next two days for work and would be back before the sonogram on Thursday. It was around 10:30 when we were about to go to bed that I suddenly begged him not to go on the trip. I didn't know why, but I just didn't think he needed to be gone. I felt horrible for making him cancel because he had already missed a lot of work that week, but he assures me that it's okay and that he will stay. He has been incredibly loving and supportive during this entire process - I couldn't have asked for a better husband or father for Savannah Kate.
Monday, January 16 - SK and I are having a normal Monday morning at home. Hunter calls me just before noon to check on me before going to the gym to workout during lunch. I tell him that I haven't had any cramps and that I felt great. He wouldn't have his phone on him for about an hour and just wanted to make sure we were okay before going. I reassure him that everything is fine and there's no reason why he can't go to the gym. At 12:15, I start feeding Savannah Kate her lunch. Turkey, cheese, fruit and yogurt just like most days. A perfectly normal day, until 12:30...
There is no need to go through all the details, but within 20 minutes I had lost the baby at 8 1/2 weeks pregnant. I'm grateful that Savannah Kate is only 15 months old and had no idea what had happened because it is obviously something that I will never be able to forget. At first, I'm shocked. I had no idea this was going to happen, I had been so hopeful. Then I have so many questions running through my mind. Why did the numbers go up? Why had there been a heartbeat? and so on. And then, I was angry - for days. I'm ashamed to say this, but I didn't pray for 2 weeks. I just felt numb and empty.
Tuesday, January 17 - A fifth trip to the hospital and another sonogram. This time, there wasn't a baby on the screen and we didn't leave with pictures. It was heartbreaking. I remember seeing a couple looking at their sonogram pictures in the elevator on our way out and they seemed so happy. Once again, questions fill my mind. Why us? We wanted this baby from the very beginning. Why would this happen after I had a perfectly normal pregnancy with Savannah Kate? And more importantly, why are miscarriages so common? I couldn't believe it when I learned that every pregnancy has a 20-25% chance of ending this way.
Where we are now - It's been just over 2 weeks. A very tough 2 weeks. We thought moving to Dallas was tough, but it was nothing compared to the loss of this baby. I'm a real person with real pain. I won't pretend like I'm okay because I'm not there yet. But what I do know, is that I will be okay because I have a heavenly Father that will carry this burden for me. And I know that even though this was horrible, I can look back now and see how God was answering prayers and moving us toward him. But it took two weeks before I even noticed. I had been so afraid that when we had that first sonogram that I would be told that the baby had died and that it could be weeks before the miscarriage happened. I've learned that this is what happens in a lot of cases as it did with two of my friends here. I couldn't imagine how horrible it would be to have to wait for that. God blessed me with not having to wait for a known miscarriage to take place. I'm so thankful for that. I had prayed the night before for God to just tell me if this baby was going to make it or not. I had obviously grown impatient and just couldn't wait until Thursday to know. God heard me and blessed me with letting it happen the very next day. I was also able to have a natural miscarriage and didn't have to have surgery and I'm so thankful for that! I have since had a checkup and have been cleared to be able to start trying to get pregnant again in one or two months if we want to.
Another blessing has been moving here to Dallas. If this would have happened in Bentonville where we were living before, I wouldn't have known any close friends that have gone through this to turn to. Here I had 3 wonderful, loving friends who had all been through the same experience and they all gave me a tremendous amount of support and encouragement that I know could have only come from someone who had been in my shoes. God gets the glory for putting me exactly where I needed to be when this happened! God used them to help me when I was in a dark place and brought me away from the anger that I was holding on to. I've also been blessed with the prayers and support of neighbors, family and friends and I cannot thank you all enough. A big thanks to a friend who specially asked me "Are you praying?" and encouraged me to even though I was angry. I'm so lucky to have friends that care about my relationship with God.
A dear friend of mine gave me a daily devotional today called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. Out of curiosity, I turned to January 16th to see what the devotional was for that day. It was so amazing that I want to rewrite it here to share:
Come to Me, and rest in My loving Presence. You know that this day will bring difficulties, and you are trying to think your way through those trials. As you anticipate what is ahead of you, you forget that I am with you - now and always. Rehearsing your troubles results in experiencing them many times, whereas you are meant to go through them only when they actually occur. Do not multiply your suffering in this way! Instead, come to Me, and relax in My Peace. I will strengthen you and prepare you for this day, transforming your fear into confident trust.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30
Through all of this, I realized a prayer that I had prayed only a few months ago. I prayed that I would be even closer to God and have an even deeper relationship with him. I wanted an encounter with him and I felt ready for what was to come. I don't know if that is why this happened, and I may never know. All I can do is take this experience - the pain, the loss, the emptiness I felt - and let God use it for Him. I don't know what that looks like right now, but I'm anticipating something good. Maybe I'll be able to help someone else like my friends helped me. It's hard right now, but I know that I want to be obedient because God's promises are true - even though his timing is not the same as mine.
"If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!" Proverbs 24:10
It's easy to be obedient when things are going well and everything seems to be going our way. What's interesting is that we have actually had a few more bad things happen all within the last two weeks after the miscarriage. Belle (our dog) may or may not have to have surgery on her knee because her kneecap is out of place, I was diagnosed with De Quervain's syndrome and may have to have surgery in the future on my wrist (we are trying a steroid shot for now) and a house fell through that we thought we wanted to buy. No, it's not the end of the world, but things don't seem to be going well. I'm still far from where I want to be, but I have HOPE! And I will get there, especially with the help of your prayers.
Hunter and I are still both hurting from this loss, but we have learned that we have a lot to be thankful for. We have a beautiful daughter who fills our lives with joy every day. We are aware that not everyone can have kids of their own, so we are eternally grateful for the gift we have been given. Hunter took this video on the night we lost the baby. We were in so much pain, but we just couldn't get enough of Savannah Kate and we were holding her a lot tighter that day. It was as if she knew that we needed to be loved on. It may seem like an ordinary family video, but it means so much to me.
Our baby would have been due sometime in August about 6 weeks before Savannah Kate's 2nd birthday. Hunter and I both know that this baby is now in heaven and even though we don't have him or her here with us, we still thought we should name our baby. So we agreed that the name, August, would be perfect. This was our child that God gave us for a short time and we look forward to meeting August someday and having our family together again.